AMD and Intel have always followed each other's lead in processor pricing, but this has changed big time with the release of Intel's Core 2 processors: AMD's top model is no longer as fast as Intel's, so it's also no longer priced similarly. Yet choosing AMD's top and Intel's second-from-top CPU allows both systems to retain most of the same hardware. It's unfortunate that with these selections, the Intel system will be both faster and less expensive.
Several model cycles might pass before games are able to use four cores, an unfortunate problem for AMD as its current hopes are pinned on better-than-Intel quad-core performance. At least we won't have to take money away from graphics in order to pay for these higher-priced processors.
The floppy drive was finally ditched, and it's probably time to drop the modem as well. Doing so wouldn't have saved enough money to change our CPU or graphics card selection, but we're sure we'd find a place to spend it eventually. We also look forward to NVIDIA's 8800 series graphics card and a new SLI-compatible chipset for Intel, two technologies that could shift a wider selection of components in our next Extreme Buyer's Guide.
* Please note that prices do not include variable charges like taxes or shipping The prices in our guide reflect market availability - generally the second or third lowest we found - in an attempt to minimize the financial burden associated with choosing multiple vendors.